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Wednesday, 29 August 1906

Senator STEWART (Queensland) - - For several reasons, I intend to vote against the proposed new clause. First, I do not consider that this is a proper Bill in which to deal with the question of preferential trade, which, so far as I understand it, is a matter of negotiation between Great Britain' and the Commonwealth. I do not know whether any distinct offer has been made bv the Commonwealth.

Senator Trenwith - No statutory offer has been made, but so far as can be done without a Statute, there has been an offer.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Without pledging the Commonwealth to anything.

Senator STEWART - At the last general election in Great Britain, the people declared by a large majority for free-trade, as against the principal of preferential trade. That being so, I do not see how we can approach the people of Great Britain on the matter, and I really see no reason why we should. What is the object of the Bill, and what ought to be our object here as members pf the Australian Parliament and citizens of the Australian Commonwealth ? The object of the Bill is the preservation of Australian industries, and our object as members of this Senate, and as citizens of the Commonwealth, ought to be the preservation of such industries as we have, and the creation of new industries. Surely that is an end which every Australian ought to assist to attain. Some honorable senators have said that we get cheap goods, which are dumped down at the end of every season, whereby the people of Australia benefit. There may have been benefits in the past, when we had no manufacturing industries of our own, but now that we are endeavouring to manufacture such goods as we can ourselves, it would be the most foolish policy imaginable' to allow anything in the shape of dumping to take place. In my opinion, it is absolutely impossible to establish new industries unless we take precautions against dumping. It is almost as impossible to establish' an industry, if we permit competition by the great firms in Europe and America, as it would be to fortify Melbourne under the fire of an enemy. If we are to raise fortifications sufficient to protect us against invasion, we must do so before the enemy appears in sight. If we are to protect our industries in such a way that they will grow strong enough to look after themselves, we must do so by establishing some barrier against dumping. I do not know whether the aspect of the question to which I am about to refer has ever struck honorable senators, but it always appeals to' me with very great force. All trade is war - all commerce is war. Hundreds of thousands of lives are sacrificed every year in the war of commerce as remorselessly as in wars between nations. Men are mowed down bv the hundred and the thousand just as surely 1n commerce as they are by the bullets and bayonets of an enemy. Our object here ought to be to do everything in our power to prevent people being destroyed by any such system. Some people will tell us that we cannot afford to dispense with the cheap goods which other countries - from philanthropic motives, I suppose - send to us. Can we not? Why, as a; matter of fact, is there at the present moment such a superfluity of capital in Australia that people are rushing all over the place looking for investments and unable to find them? Large sums of money are being, sent to Great Britain for investment. Wealth that has been wrung out of wool, out of mines, from agricultural sources, and from other veins of industry, has been accumulating to such an extent that it is difficult to find profitable fields for its employment. We. are producing, as our statisticians and politicians are fond of telling us, more wealth per head than any other people in the world. I want to see that wealth distributed somewhat more equally than it is. Let us use1 some portion of it to create industries in our midst that will give employment to our young mert and our young women. That ought to be the desire j of every man who loves this Commonwealth and who wishes to see it prosper. It does not matter to me whether dumped goods come here from America or from Great Britain. I am opposed to them in either case. As regards the unpopularity of which Senator Dobson has spoken, I do not care "two dumps " about it, to use a vulgar phrase. It does nob trouble me what Great Britain thinks of our legislation. We must stand upon our own legs, not lean against Great Britain or any other nation. We have borrowed large sums of money, and we will pay every farthing of it. We have never failed to pay our annual interest promptly, and I do not think we ever shall. I do not see where the obligation comes in. If we want money, and Great Britain will not lend it to us, we can get it from New York, which is rapidly becoming the financial centre of the world. In a few years we shall not need to go outside Australia for money to develop our resources. We shall, I trust, be able with- money of our own*, not only to develop such industries, as we have, but also to establish new ones. The nearer we approach to that time the better I shall .like it. Therefore I shall vote against the amendment.

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